Are you a bargain hunter looking for a way to save money while filing taxes. If so, FreeTaxUSA serves up one of the lowest cost tax software products on the market.
The tax software still costs money (unlike the totally free tax software from CreditKarma), but it’s a very cheap solution with enough usability for all but the most complex filers.
It’s not as easy to use as H&R Block or TurboTax, but it offers a decent user experience at a bargain price. Is it right for you?
We explain why experienced tax filers (especially those with complicated returns) should definitely consider FreeTaxUSA this year. See how FreeTaxUSA compares to the best tax programs this year, and see how we rank it in our FreeTaxUSA review below.
- Easy Navigation and Inputs, even for complicated returns
- Very Little Guidance, Best For Self Directed Filers
- Great Pricing
$12.95 per State
FreeTaxUSA Review Video
Is it really free?
Free is the name of the software, so it’s got to be free. Right? Not exactly.
With FreeTaxUSA, Federal Tax Filing is indeed free for every situation. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a side hustler, someone with student loans, someone who itemizes, or someone with an HSA. If you are filing an individual tax return for the IRS, FreeTaxUSA is in fact free.
The "gotcha" is with state filing. State filing costs $12.95 per state return. While this isn’t too expensive, the only people who qualify for truly free filing are those who live in and work in no income tax states.
What's New In 2021?
FreeTaxUSA has made a few minor improvements to the user experience. In particular, it gives warnings and “IRS Red Flags” throughout the software. Aside from these minor tweaks, we didn’t see any major changes from previous years.
Of course, FreeTaxUSA also aligns its software with changes in the tax law. All changes to tax laws are reflected in the FreeTaxUSA software.
FreeTaxUSA Prices And Plans
FreeTaxUSA has two major pricing tiers, and a few add-ons (such as prior year filing, amended returns, filing, etc.) The prices listed below assume that you’ll pay with a credit card (or another payment type). If you want FreeTaxUSA to take the proceeds out of your refund, you’ll owe an additional $19.99 (we don't recommend any type of tax refund advance).
FreeTaxUSA allows you to file for an extension for free. This is exceptionally useful for those who need a few days extra to wrap up filing.
All Tax Situations
Priority support with LiveChat (important for last minute filers).
FreeTaxUSA’s navigation is a hybrid between guided and self-guided navigation. Compared to some more expensive services, FreeTaxUSA feels a bit clunky. You’ll have to know where to enter various bits of information on your own. That said, it does have help bubbles throughout the software. These bubbles have additional information that can help users enter necessary information.
Despite some of the clunkiness, FreeTaxUSA is a very usable software given the price point. For example, FreeTaxUSA has a “Where do I enter” link on the right side of the software. This robust list gives links and information about where to enter every form and topic I could think of.
The deductions and credits section and the other sections tend to be more guided, which most users will find helpful.
FreeTaxUSA’s best Navigation feature is its “Summary” section which lists all the information you entered in a single frame. This should make it easy for you to see if you’ve accidentally missed any critical information. Users can also use the navigation bar at the top of the software to jump to different sections if they’ve missed something.
Ease Of Use
Overall, FreeTaxUSA displayed impressive navigation, and helpful information (such as summary screens, and the “Where do I enter?” link). Its calculators (including depreciation calculators, withholdings calculators, credit calculators, and more) were easy to use. Some calculations ran in the background without users needing to touch them.
Despite these many excellent features, FreeTaxUSA is still best for people who have experience filing. People who have no idea how to characterize their income will spend too much time clicking around to figure out the right place to enter information.
Experienced filers will likely understand how to use FreeTaxUSA, and they can handle some of the less elegant sections of the software. People without experience filing may get lost in the FreeTaxUSA software.
One additional feature we've noticed this year is that if you start with their sister product TaxHawk, you can pick up where you left off within FreeTaxUSA. Could be helpful if you're considering the two products.
FreeTaxUSA serves up relevant knowledge articles in a “Top Issues” link on the right side of the screen. The software also has a search function for finding relevant articles. The articles themselves tended to be an appropriate length. Most included hyperlinks to relevant sections. The “library” of knowledge articles and the depth of the articles is impressive given the low cost of filing through FreeTaxUSA.
To get priority support, unlimited amended returns, and audit assistance, you need to upgrade to the Deluxe version of the software. The cost is just $6.99 (plus the cost of filing your state return).
Filers can also request a paper copy of the return ($6.99) or a copy of the return in a bound format ($12.99).
Does FreeTaxUSA Support Crypto Investments?
FreeTaxUSA supports users looking to file crypto investments, but it doesn’t make the process easy. Before entering information about trades, users will need to use Coinbase or a similar site to look up their price conversions between cryptocurrency and USD at the time of the sale.
This can be clunky, especially if you’re a high volume crypto trader.
You might find better value using a software like TurboTax, which allows you to import your crypto transactions.
Can I Get My Missing Stimulus Check Tax Credit?
Didn’t get a stimulus check this year (or you think you were underpaid)? FreeTaxUSA makes it easy to claim your Recovery Rebate Credit which retroactively gives filers their money in the form of a tax credit. During the credit section, it will ask about stimulus checks and calculate the appropriate credit on your behalf.
Is It Secure?
FreeTaxUSA has multi-factor authentication. The default version is email, and you are not required to have a cell phone number entered. However, if you want to use text for multi-factor authentication, FreeTaxUSA allows it.
How Does FreeTaxUSA Compare?
FreeTaxUSA is one of the most popular tax software companies, so our comparisons focus on other popular software options. TurboTax and H&R Block are both more expensive than FreeTaxUSA but offer slightly better functionality.
However, all of these programs have a free tier, so we think FreeTaxUSA tends to be better for self-employed people, landlords, and people who lived or worked in multiple states that are experienced in filing their taxes.
Student Loan Interest
Import Last Year's Taxes
$12.95 per additional state
$36.99 per additional state
$40 per additional state
Earned Income Tax Credit
Child Tax Credit
Retirement Income (SS, Pension, etc.)
Free (but limited)
Free (but limited)
Capital Gains Income
Small Business Owner (over $5k in expenses)
Free Tier Price
$0 Fed & $12.95 State
$0 Fed & $0 State
$0 Fed & $0 State
Deluxe Tier Price
$6.99 Fed & $12.95 State
$29.99 Fed & $36.99 State
$40 Fed & $40 State
Premium Tier Price
$6.99 Fed & $12.95 State
$49.99 Fed & $36.99 State
$70 Fed & $40 State
Self-Employed Tier Price
$6.99 Fed & $12.95 State
$84.99 Fed & $36.99 State
$90 Fed & $40 State
Who Should Use FreeTaxUSA 2021?
FreeTaxUSA maintains its position as a top tax software choice for bargain hunters. Although it’s not totally free, the functionality is excellent, especially if you have a variety of income sources.
You can’t import forms which makes it a little more cumbersome than H&R Block, TaxSlayer, but it’s also much less expensive than the competition.
FreeTaxUSA should be on the short list for consideration for most tax filers.
Have you used FreeTaxUSA? Let us know your thoughts!
Here are some common questions we get about FreeTaxUSA:
Is FreeTaxUSA Legitimate?
Yes! It's a popular tax software preparation company that has been in business since 2001.
Is FreeTaxUSA really free?
For Federal tax returns, yes, it is fully free for all forms and filings. However, they do charge $12.95 for state returns, and they also have various upsells.
Does FreeTaxUSA offer any type of support?
On their Deluxe plan, you can get priority support for help with your tax return. However, they don't offer any "done-for-you" services.
Is FreeTaxUSA better than TurboTax?
It depends. FreeTaxUSA is cheaper in price than TurboTax, but TurboTax does offer free file as well. The big difference comes down to ease of use, and getting the support you want.
- Ease of Use
- Features and Options
- Customer Service
- Plans and Pricing
FreeTaxUSA is a great bargain tax software option for business owners, side hustlers, and small landlords that don’t need navigation.
- Great flat-rate pricing
- Easy navigation and inputs
- Solid option for bargain hunters
- Not much guidance, more suited towards experienced tax filers
- Lacks some premium features like audit support
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.